Cain teaches at Centre Middle School, but two decades ago, she was a lifeguard at the old Hillsboro pool Helmer managed.
“Swimming pools are in my blood, I guess,” Cain said. “I worked at the Hillsboro pool from the time I was a sophomore in high school until the time I got married. That’s eight years. Then I managed the Marion pool for four years after that.”
“We decided to (take the job) together,” Helmer said. “We thought it sounded like a fun job, and we have a pretty good time working together.”
Cain agreed: “I worked with her for those first eight years. We have a great time together—like sisters or best friends, not really the typical mother/daughter thing.”
All the time spent together means the various aspects of running a pool—from keeping the facility clean and the water chemically balanced to hiring staff, managing concessions and overseeing a group of lifeguards—is familiar work to both.
“It’s a lot of hours put in,” Cain said.
While each part of the job presents its own set of challenges, Helmer said she could not say which part is hardest.
“I enjoy it all,” she said. “We’ll divide everything up eventually. Right now, we’re just getting started.”
In the early going, Helmer has worked closely with assistant manager Holly Lindsay to hire lifeguards—the lion’s share of the workload so far.
Staffing has not been difficult, Helmer said, but scheduling is still in process.
Cain said the staff consists of two people to operate the concession stand and eight certified guards.
“That way,” Cain said, “if we get busy, we have experienced certified guards available. We like it that way, because we know it works.
“More than that, we really think the managers should be there all the time, so between the three of us, we’ve got a rotating shift,” she added.
Helmer said it’s too soon to tell what kinds of special events might show up on the schedule.
“Once my co-manager and my assistant manager get out of school—they’re both teachers—then we’ll sit down and work on special events,” she said.
Both mother and daughter emphasize that swimming pools should be, above all else, places to have fun.
“Our main goal for the summer is to make this a fun place,” Helmer said.
But they also know summer weather is to be watched and respected—so the only change to the facility this off-season is the addition of an office phone.
“We’re getting a land line,” Helmer said.
“To me, Internet isn’t always the most reliable (source for weather information),” Cain said. “Neither are cell phones. she added. “We decided we’ve got police officers we can rely on and a weather radio and a lightning meter. And we have a regular radio, so we’re prepared.”
Helmer said having a phone provides other benefits as well.
“It will be the number listed in the directory,” she said. “So if someone is interested in pool parties or swim team or lessons, all they have to do is call.”
“As for pool parties,” Cain said, “we really looked at lowering the price, because it was pretty steep. I don’t think they had a lot of pool parties last year. We’re hoping to have more.”
In addition to lowering the prices for pool parties, HFAC is bringing back the season pass in a bid to make it more convenient for families to come.
Cain said they are working toward being able to provide lessons taught by a Red Cross certified water-safety instructor.
Cain said the hours have been changed: “On weekends we’re open until 7 p.m. but in the evenings, from 7 to 10 p.m. We could book parties, and we’re hoping to see that happen.”